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Christopher Cameron
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Pictou County expects 45 players to attend selection camp starting Thursday

NEW GLASGOW – Camp is just around the corner and we’re not talking about sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya.

Stephen MacInnis, winner of the 2014 MHL character award, will be back in a Weeks Crushers uniform this season after spending his first year in Pictou County during the 2013-14 campaign. The Crushers selection camp officially opens on Thursday night, although MacInnis and other veterans will be on the ice this week leading into the weeklong camp.

Starting this Thursday night, approximately 45 young men will be fighting for 23 roster spots on the Weeks Crushers for the upcoming season. Some returning players may have a spot solidified, but that doesn’t mean they can slack off during the weeklong camp.

“I think it will be a fun camp – we have a lot of free agents coming from all sorts of different backgrounds,” said head coach Jason Malone. “We have a couple spots up front that we’re looking to fill. Both through those free agents and through our draft I feel we have a few midget players that are ready to make the jump.

“We made some good moves in the off-season with our D-core and our goaltending is solidified, so we have some forwards that are coming in fighting for spots.”

Included in their off-season moves they brought in three 20-year-olds. On the blue-line they traded for Willie MacDonald (Amherst Ramblers) and Justin McDonald (Dieppe Commandos).

Up front they received Daniel Walsh (Amherst Ramblers) for defenceman Tanner McCabe and their 2014 first round pick.

In the crease they have Devan Tremblay, 20, returning. He will be their starting goaltender after playing a backup role behind Brandon Thibeau last season. The Peterborough, Ont., native posted a 7-2-1 record in the 2013-14 regular season with a 1.77 GAA, 0.948 save percentage and three shutouts.

“We have two other goaltenders coming to camp, three in total,” said Malone. “Justin Ritcey, who we drafted two years ago, we’re looking for him to make the jump, but we also have a 19-year-old coming that hopefully will push him a little bit and let him know there’s some competition there. Devan is back and is excited to be a number-one guy and be relied on heavily, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he’s made of.”

Ritcey attended camp last season and played a portion of an exhibition game with the Crushers before going back to major midget where he helped lead the Halifax McDonalds to the Telus Cup (national major midget hockey championship). The season prior to that he was in goal for the Valley Wildcats team that also represented the Atlantic provinces at the national tournament.

This week’s camp opens with three separate practices on Thursday night with three intersquad games and an all-rookie game slated for Friday.

On Saturday they travel to Summerside for an exhibition game before returning home for the second half of the home-and-home against the Capitals. Sunday’s puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.

They have practices scheduled throughout next week with exhibition games against the Truro Bearcats on Tuesday (in Truro) and Thursday (in Pictou County).

With this being Malone’s fifth selection camp since being hired by the Crushers in 2010, he said he has learned what works best for evaluating players in preparation for the season.

He likes the mix of practices and exhibition games that they have as part of their annual schedule.

“We kind of learn from what worked and what didn’t over the years,” he said. “We like a condensed training camp, which allows players to come in and be fresh and get right into exhibition game play. That’s pretty much why we’re starting a week later. Having guys drag out for a long period of time I find they get a little mentally fatigued.

“We have our veteran guys here now for an hour in the morning, but we’re looking forward to getting it (full camp) going.”

This year they will have Kyle MacLennan back as their strength and conditioning coach after his first year with the team during the 2013-14 season. Malone said there were some growing pains with that, but they’re excited to have MacLennan back to work with their players on off-ice training.

“We were happy with it, but we found it’s tough with guys who are taking course loads at St. FX, coming to and from the rink every day, to set the times, but again you learn from what worked and what didn’t,” said Malone. “Kyle has learned a lot and has taken on a lot more being part of the midget program. He’s also training the men’s hockey team up at St. FX, so he’s able to balance the workload and was able to learn from what didn’t work last year (with us) and we’ve implemented that into this year’s training program.”

Camp schedule from weekscrushershockey.com

Thursday, Aug. 28

6 p.m.               Camp Check In

7-7:45 p.m.        Team A Practice

8-8:45 p.m.        Team B Practice

9-9:45 p.m.        Team C Practice

Friday, Aug. 29

8:30-9:45 a.m.        Intersquad #1

10-11:15 a.m.         Intersquad #2

11:30-12:45 p.m.     Intersquad #3

5-7 p.m.        All Rookie Game

7:30-9 p.m.        Family BBQ

Saturday, Aug. 30 

10-11 a.m.    Practice

7 p.m.          Crushers @ Summerside

Sunday, Aug. 31

10-11:30 a.m.    Morning Session

3 p.m.              Summerside @ Crushers

Monday, Sept. 1

10-11 a.m.          Practice

4-5:30 p.m.         Pracitce

Tuesday, Sept. 2

1-3 p.m.         Practice

7 p.m.            Crushers @ Truro

Wednesday, Sept. 3

10-11:30 a.m.      Morning Session

4-5:30 p.m.         Practice

Thursday, Sept. 4

10-11:30 a.m.      Morning Session

7 p.m.                Truro @ Crushers

Friday, Sept. 5

TEAM BUILDER

Saturday, Sept. 6

10:00 - 11:00am      Practice

TEAM BUILDER

Sunday, Sept. 7

TEAM BUILDER 

 

 

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Organizations: Telus, Capitals, Pictou County Wellness Centre

Geographic location: Pictou County, Peterborough, Summerside Truro

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